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DIY Pinhole camera


Staring at people through small holes can be socially acceptable, as photographer Chris Keeney, author of Pinhole Cameras: A DIY Guide (£10.99, Princeton Architectural Press), shows us.

“You can use a variety of containers — coffee tins, mint tins, shoeboxes — but it needs to be light-tight. A matchbox is made from thin material that will let some light through, so either colour it with a black marker or cover it in black photo or electrical tape. Then cut a square about ¼in across in one side.”

“Twist a pin to ‘drill’ a small round hole in a piece of thin copper or brass, making the hole as round as possible. Gently sand both sides of the hole with ultrafine sandpaper. Tape the foil to the inside of the square hole, getting the tape as close as possible to the hole.”

“In a very dark room, take a piece of photographic paper and attach it to the inside back of the camera using a loop of tape, and put a piece of black tape over the front of the camera, closing the hole, to use it as a ‘shutter’. Seal the camera up again with tape.”

“To take a photo the camera has to be completely still, so use something like a brick to steady it. Take away the tape covering the hole to expose the paper. In bright conditions, it should take 20-40 seconds, but that’s something you’ll need to experiment with. There’s no focal length, so you could get your finger in a shot of a mountain range and both would be in focus — no app can help you do that. I like to shoot big, bold subjects, but it’s up to you. Develop and fix your photo using chemicals available from any photographic store.”



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